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“Jörg Nowak has written an ambitious, wide-ranging and very important book. Based on extensive empirical research in Brazil and India and a thorough analysis of the secondary literature, Nowak reveals that numerous labour conflicts develop in the absence of trade unions, but with the support of kinship networks, local communities, social movements and other types of associations. This impressive work may well become a major building block for a new interpretation of global workers’ struggles.”—Marcel van der Linden, International Institute of Social History, The Netherlands

“Nowak’s book meticulously details the trajectory of strikes and its resultant new forms of organisations in India and Brazil. The central focus of this analytically rich and thought provoking book is to search for a new political alternative model of organising workers. A very good deed indeed!”—Nandita Mondal, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, India

“Jörg Nowak analyses with critical sense forms of popular organization that often remain invisible. It is an indispensable book for all those who are looking for more effective analytical resources to better understand the present situation and the future promises of the workers’ movements.”—Roberto Véras de Oliveira, Federal University of Paraíba, Brazil

“In this timely and important study, Nowak convincingly challenges the dominant Eurocentric approach to labour conflict and calls for a new theory of strikes. He stresses the need to engage in a wider perspective that includes social reproduction, neighbourhood mobilisations, and the specific traditions of struggles in the Global South.”—Edward Webster, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa


This book explores new forms of popular organisation that emerged from strikes in India and Brazil between 2011 and 2014. Based on four case studies, the author traces the alliances and relations that strikers developed during their mobilisations with other popular actors such as students, indigenous peoples, and people displaced by dam projects. The study locates the mass strikes in Brazil’s construction industry and India’s automobile industry in a global conjuncture of protest movements, and develops a new theory of strikes that can take account of the manifold ways in which labour unrest is embedded in local communities and regional networks.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Introduction

Abstract
Mass strikes in the wake of the global crisis in the late 2000s came with new forms of popular organisation. An analysis of those emerging rebellions has to engage in a thick description, taking into account the local and regional contexts.
Jörg Nowak

Chapter 2. A New Theory of Strikes: Moving Beyond Eurocentrism

Abstract
Industrial relations theory suffers from an economistic and Eurocentric bias, focusing on trade unions and the workplace. A new theory of strikes has to take a broader view and include other places of mobilisation and other forms of organisation. Apart from the classical lines of the analysis of trade unions, there is an alternative line of strike analysis focused on mass strikes and social movement unionism. Both lines of strike research come with important insights and can be combined with labour geography in order to provide the basis for a non-Eurocentric and non-economistic theory of strikes.
Jörg Nowak

Chapter 3. The Political Economy of Mass Strikes in the Global Crisis

Abstract
Global capitalism has restructured production networks, and the precarity-informality regime is the basis of those networks at the level of the labour regime. Strikes after 2008 in non-core countries confronted lower growth rates and the scenario of a Kondratieff downswing.
Jörg Nowak

Chapter 4. A Protracted Struggle: Strikes in the Automobile Sector in India

Abstract
The labour unrest at Maruti Suzuki and Bajaj Auto came with forms of organisation: a broad network of actors and places in the first, and a more traditional regional union federation in the second case.
Jörg Nowak

Chapter 5. An Ascending Wave: Mass Strikes in the Brazilian Construction Sector

Abstract
Mass strikes in Brazilian construction were mostly led by workers, and unions acted in a top-down manner at the Belo Monte Dam, and with a more democratic leadership in the construction sites in Pecém.
Jörg Nowak

Chapter 6. Conclusion

Abstract
Elites in Brazil and India responded to mass strikes with a turn to right-wing governments which could not prevent a new wave of strikes. The global conjuncture reveals limitations of the recent wave of mass strikes due to their relative isolation from other protest actors and their lack of broader political aspirations.
Jörg Nowak

Backmatter

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